SOURCE: Adapted from an article by Karl Benzio/Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network
Guilt Trip To…Nowhere
Because I teach people to make decisions based on information, not emotions, I cringe when I hear parents, politicians, ministries, or pastors using guilt to “motivate” others.
“If you loved me, you would do your chores.”
“I worked long and hard on this meal, so you better eat it.”
“We’ll have to cancel the event … unless you volunteer in the nursery to help us.”
“Look at these starving kids in Africa and all the food you throw away. Please send money.”
“See the pain Jesus went through for you? You should feel terrible; now accept Him as your Savior.”
Guilt is an incredible motivator, but that’s not the correct role for or use of guilt. I am all for pointing out injustices and needs so people can step into their roles to help these situations or make good decisions. But the issue I am trying to separate through these examples is this: we shouldn’t use guilt to motivate people.
Several subliminal, distorted and false messages can unwantedly occur when people act out of guilt. Here are some examples:
#1. I am responsible for and can control someone else’s feelings through what I do.
#2. The other person won’t feel better unless I act the way he wants.
#3. When you want a friend to do something for you, it is OK to lay a guilt trip on her.
#4. And this is probably the worst message of all, Decisions should be based on self-needs and emotions, not God’s truth, facts, and reasoning.
Unfortunately, these distorted messages subtly seep into our everyday functioning, and dramatically interfere with Godly decision-making.
Many pastors and priests try to whip their congregations into Christian action by delivering guilt-inducing sermons. Whether it’s guilting someone to say the sinner’s prayer, to give money, to volunteer, or to stop a certain behavior, the end does not justify the means. I have personally experienced these guilt-evoking messages. And unfortunately, they undermine the very foundation of grace and love, then developing the Mind of Christ that God wants to instill in a believer’s heart.
Today, take notice if you are feeling guilty about something, or if you are inducing guilt in someone else.
Stop and examine why guilt is present.
Guilt is important if you have done something wrong. So let the guilt warn you that a problem exists. But don’t let it be your decision-maker. Let reason and the Bible direct your heart and actions. Confess, repent, apologize, and ask for forgiveness.
You are responsible for your feelings and happiness; the other person is responsible for his own. Above all else, be mindful that God does not measure and judge you by the amount of good works you do. Rather He looks into your heart. God or guilt, what you use to motivate and guide you is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I do not want to be stressed out about not “doing enough” as good Christian. I know that You want me to relax in the assurance of Your perfect love. Today help me remember that You delight in me more than I can ever imagine, that You see me cloaked in Your light and presence … and that there is no condemnation for those cloaked in You. Help me daily, Lord, to come closer to having the Mind of Christ. Help me make decisions based on Your word, not my feelings. Help me feel convicted and guilty about my wrongs, and then look to You for forgiveness, and to Your word for guidance in doing right. I pray in the name of the One who knew no guilt ‘til He bore all mine, Jesus Christ; – AMEN!
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest. Isaiah 61:10
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Romans 8:1-2